Thursday, April 5, 2012

Life in Song: Dressed to Kill

Life in Song is a series which will likely never finish. It is not, as originally conceived, a span of my hundred favorite songs; rather, each post covers one song randomly selected from a list of those which immediately evoke a memory or other emotional response. Entries will likely be uncomfortably candid and melancholic, as they attempt to recount a song's personal significance and also its context in my psychotically detailed fantasy life.

Song: New Found Glory - Dressed to Kill

Thoughts: Still catchy after all these years (this may be something I end up saying a lot). This was a good song to come up, although it will be difficult to determine what to write for this and what to write for its sister track.

Defining Era: 2001, season unknown.

Vital Lyric: "'Cheer up,' my friends all say. You're better alone anyway."

First Exposure: After their cover of "My Heart Will Go On" first led me to New Found Glory, it was "Better Off Dead" and "Dressed to Kill" that seemed to arise arbitrarily from Napster. This was the era where I, as a young and ignorant ephebe, saw my musical triumvirate transition from "Weird Al, showtunes, and Japanese techno," to "New Found Glory, Less Than Jake, and the Bloodhound Gang." Not necessarily a change for the better, but it did allow a few more options.

Prominent Memory: This one is highly connected to its fantasy. In ninth grade I was still dream-pining for Shiva, whom this song transports me to quickly, and the first zygote of my imaginary band was taking shape. Thus, "Dressed to Kill" is one of its first songs, along with some others I'll write about and many that I won't. I contextualized this one a degree further than most others. This takes us all the way back to performing at my summer camp as the Cliché Teenagers. (To go further back than this, which I don't think I'll have to do for Life in Song, would be to reach the Naked Oompa-Loompas).

Alternate Memories: It was in boarding school that I got my first New Found Glory CD, New Found Glory (aha). I suppose I should first recount that initial work program in which I had the audacity to bring my portable CD player with me and listen, visually rocking out, to the disc while standing in formation to chuck chopped wood down the basement. Dolores noticed (everyone noticed, but I noticed her noticing), asked what I was listening and was not visually disgusted when I told her. Sink would condemn me for my taste in the band.

Fantasy: So, the lyrics do sort of lend themselves to fantasy. The singer references going on tour (no, he references being always on tour, which I've mentally changed for so long that I forget what it was originally), which I applied to myself as, I suppose, the Cliché Teenagers began their burgeoning success and I dealt with the ramifications of that in my rocky relationship with Shiva. The lyric "I'm always dressed to kill" is still pertinent, as Artist on Artist favors that kind of ironic cockalorum. That said, I doubt this is actually one of my songs in that universe; if so, it is a vestige.

"I can't dream anymore," the song repeats (I think I heard this once as "can't train anymore"), which I suppose struck me as too poorly poetic even then, so I conjured up Shiva being a sort of mentoring songwriter for me, at camp, who called the process of writing "dreaming." Dumb, but there's something that seems, to me, lovely and innocent about it, which was endemic of my fantasy loves at the time.

It's too bad that "Dressed to Kill" seems neolithic to me now, as lyrics such as "And I can't stop pretending that you're forever mine" could be plucked from any modern Artist on Artist number. Perhaps this was one of our songs in our early, faltering days at H Street.

Out of Ten: 6.1

Audiosurf Score: 163,694 (Nearby: 1, Global: 1)

Some Levity: Many memories arise from the self-titled album on which this song appeared, the brightest one forever being its indelible and inarguable sticker declaring the CD "catchy pop punk from the heart." More than a decennium stands between it and me but it remains unforgettable.

On Audiosurf, someone called Atma commented "I listened to this when I was still happy." I don't know if that counts.

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